Grants for equipment to enable innovation in small businesses in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding

Harnessing automation to streamline production

Formed in 2008, Abingdon Health is an innovative rapid diagnostic company working with a wide range of clients ranging from medical and veterinary through to plant health; and produce lateral flow assays and reader systems for a range of uses.

Scott Page, Group Financial Controller, explains: “A lateral flow test is a diagnostic device used to confirm the presence or absence of a target substance. One of our typical kits would include a lateral flow device (ie like a pregnancy test) and a bottle of liquid referred to as a ‘buffer’. As an example some of the novel assays we are developing and have developed are:

• A test for dairy farmers to enable early identification of udder inflammation in cows which limits milk production – early detection is vital as this has huge financial impacts for farmers and current testing methods used are time-consuming and have limitations.

• Seralite® – FLC, a rapid diagnostic device for the simultaneous quantitative measurement of kappa (K) and lambda (λ) immunoglobulin free light chains (FLCs) in serum. FLCs are used as an aid in the diagnosis and monitoring of multiple myeloma. Seralite® – FLC was commercially launched in April 2015 and since its inception, Seralite® – FLC has been registered in over 70 countries and is distributed globally by Abingdon Health’s partner, Sebia.

As well as producing rapid diagnostic products and reader systems for their own portfolio, Abingdon Health also work on R&D concepts, which they take from scoping through to contract manufacture.   

Their manufacturing facility at Sand Hutton, North Yorkshire, needed to increasingly produce larger volumes, not only for their UK based customers, but also for their exported volumes. Before they applied for a PAPI grant they were using some manual processes.

Scott continues: “The obvious solution was for us to purchase a bottle labeller and an extra module for our laminator however this was financially beyond our reach. The 40% funding from PAPI meant we could purchase the equipment now rather than wait for the funds to buy it and risk loss of future business.”

The key equipment purchases through the PAPI grant were the Laminator Module and Bottle Labeller.

Abingdon Laminator Module approvedIMG 1036

Laminator Module – Steph Mabin, Primary Production Team Leader, tells us: “We manufacture the components for our Lateral Flow Tests in reel lengths. After the materials have gone through the quality control process, they are laminated onto adhesive backing card and cut using our Auto-Lamination equipment. Before purchasing the extra module for the Auto-Laminator, there were limitations to the number materials we could laminate. The extra module now allows us to laminate additional materials, which creates greater flexibility and helps to reduce the time taken to manufacture a product.”   

Abingdon Bottle labeller approved IMG 1026

Bottle Labeller - Ra Horgan, Production Team Leader, adds: “The introduction of the automated bottle label print and application machine has enabled us to move from a manual methodology to an automated one for the printing and applying of buffer bottle labels. This has resulted in a significant improvement in the quality and consistency of label application as well as saving us operator hours on an off-line manual labelling methodology, freeing up operators to progress other products. Additionally we are finding that we are making savings on label wastage given the old method involved pre-printing all labels, plus some excess to cover issues, prior to commencing work. With this automation we only print as many labels as required.”

From the installation of the bottle labeller, Abingdon Health tell us they have already saved £10,000 in just one year of its implementation!

Now with their new equipment fully integrated within the business, Abingdon Health inform us that their labour team is working much more efficiently leaving them more time for innovation and developing new products. Scott explains: “Having the equipment in place means that we can bring in more business. It has made us more efficient, increased our profitability, and also allowed us to create two additional full time roles.”

Regarding the PAPI application process, Scott concluded: “It was really good, really responsive when we needed help with the process. PAPI were quick to react and anytime we needed to contact them it was straightforward and they would come back quickly with an answer!”

For more information on Abingdon Health please visit: https://www.abingdonhealth.com/

Could a grant from PAPI help your business?  

The PAPI project provides grants for equipment that enables innovation through to new product development. A grant of 40% is available on a project spend of between £20k-£50k which equates to a grant of between £8k-£20k. You can contact the PAPI team on 01904 32 8076 or email us at papi-project@york.ac.uk